Long recovery stage looms for grieving TX town

Long recovery stage looms for grieving TX town

Long recovery stage looms for grieving TX town

The town of Uvalde, Texas is entering into a second phase of collective grief as it begins to lay to rest the 19 children and two teachers gunned down in last week's tragic shooting.

Eleven of the victims in the Uvalde school shooting attended the town's Sacred Heart Catholic Church, meaning that parish is going to be hosting funeral masses for the next couple of weeks. Today the town laid to rest 10-year-old Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo. Pastor Tommy Larner of the Del Rio-Uvalde Baptist Association says it's going to be a tough stretch.

"The town is devastated," the pastor tells AFN. "Life goes on because it has to go on – but everything is still just so focused on what happened a week ago."

Larner says the town is flocking to churches around the city. Sunday's attendance set records for many congregations. "People have been very, very open to prayer, recognizing that there are no easy answers," he adds. "Boy – that three-letter word 'why' is a big word."

Uvalde is also dealing with fallout from the slow police response to the shooting (see update below). Police took more than an hour to breech the building and take out the shooter, all while parents were begging them to take action.

"There is anger," Pastor Larner acknowledges. "Now some of the folks who are expressing that anger are not necessarily community members. [But] one of our pastors was sharing – and this is so sad – that evidently there was a law enforcement officer who just went to get a burger, and somebody yelled out 'You should've died.'"

A survivor of an explosion in 2013 in the town of West, Texas, that killed 15 traveled to Uvalde to help counsel leaders in the town. Larner explains that survivor talked about three steps the town will have to go through:

"The first stage is rescue, the second one is relief, the third is recovery. We're in the relief stage and you can't say exactly how long that will be … and then that recovery stage will be very long."

Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez said during a news conference Thursday that panicked 911 calls for help last week from people inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde didn't make their way to school district police Chief Pete Arredondo. The Democratic senator called it a "system failure" that the calls were going to the city police but not communicated to Arredondo. The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety has said police didn't confront the gunman more quickly because Arredondo believed the situation had morphed from an active shooting to a hostage situation.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.